Prosecutors offer answer to why Jessica Chambers said 'Eric' killed her

Published: Oct. 15, 2017 at 11:52 AM CDT|Updated: Oct. 16, 2017 at 3:58 PM CDT
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PANOLA CO, MS (WMC) - In closing arguments, prosecutors said first responders misheard Jessica Chambers' dying declaration. They said she was trying to say "Tellis" killed her, but because she was so badly burned first responders heard "Eric."

Quinton Tellis' fate is now in the hands of the jury. Click here for the latest in the case. 

The jury deliberated for 4.5 hours Sunday but did not come to a unanimous verdict in the case.

Quinton Tellis is charged with murder and arson in the death of Jessica Chambers. She was found near her burning car on a back road in Courtland, Mississippi, on December 6, 2014.

During testimony Saturday, a phone expert revealed that Tellis begged Chambers for sex four times the day she died.

Each time, Chambers said no.

Those requests all happened via text message--messages that Tellis deleted about an hour after Chambers was set on fire.

District Attorney John Champion began closing arguments in the trial Sunday afternoon, followed by the defense.

Tellis told the judge he did not want to testify and his defense team did not call any witnesses, perhaps feeling all of the prosecution witnesses who said Jessica Chambers said Eric set her on fire was enough.

Champion started off with the "elephant in the room," the testimony from one prosecution witness after the other, one first responder after the other who testified Jessica Chambers said the name of the person who set her on fire.

"When the first responders got to Jessica, they didn't hear the name Quinton," Champion said. "They heard what they thought was Eric."

Champion went on to point out that Jessica Chambers was so badly injured the first responders must have misunderstood what the 19-year-old said.

Defense attorneys Darla Palmer and Alton Peterson played up the "Eric" testimony, saying "Eric" should be on trial, not Quinton.

They pointed out that at least eight first responders testified Chambers said the name Eric.

"'Eric set me on fire,'" Palmer said. "She stated several times, 'Eric set me on fire.'"

Defense attorneys told jurors the investigation was flawed from the beginning.

After a brief recess, the jury returned for the final closing argument from Champion.

Champion reminded the jury of when she told doctors she was thirsty, except it came out as "hirsty" since she was unable to pronounce the letter "T" because of the damage to her throat.

Champion suggested she might have been trying to say "Tellis," but since she couldn't say "T," it sounded like "Eric."

Jessica Chambers' father and mother listened with tears in their eyes as closing arguments ended.

Closing arguments finished at 4 p.m., and the jury was sent back for deliberation.

Jurors will now decide if Quinton Tellis is guilty of capital murder by willfully and maliciously setting fire to Jessica Chambers' car that ended in her death.

Miss any of the trial? Catch up by reading the articles below which include video of very witness' testimony.

Day 1: Opening statements conclude, Jessica Chambers' mom takes the stand

Day 2: First responders testify to hearing Jessica Chambers say 'Eric' burned her

Day 3: Chambers' burn injuries, suspect's phone in spotlight

Day 4: Interrogation video raises doubt about Tellis' alibi

Day 5: Deleted texts show Jessica Chambers denied Tellis sex

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